Wednesday, December 31, 2003

Blogger named in Top Ten list

The Nielson Netratings, according to the BBC Online, has placed Blogger as the 10th most influential blog in 2003.

Placed at #1 is Google. Now, if Google could just acquire #2-#9 it could carry the whole Top Ten.

2004 predictions

I'm sure this won't be the only blog we do picking up on predictions for the blogging world. One interesting prediction is from Wi-Fi Planet which repeats a rumor that Google intends to link it's Blogger software with a Friendster like engine.

The word around the industry is that Google will hook its Blogger software to a Friendster-type network (via an acquisition?) to tap into the ever-more-connected, open-standard-driven computing world.

They also see 2004 as being a "truly-connected world of online journals, Web collaboration and personals networking."

Monday, December 29, 2003

Advice from veteran bloggers

Here's a new year's resolution for you: follow some advice from nine of the Web's most important blogs.

NetGuideWeb has collected advice from some of the top bloggers that is a must read for new and even for experienced bloggers. Here's a sample:

The beauty of a personal site is that there are no editorial guidelines. If you wake up on Monday you may feel completely different from the way you will on Tuesday, and your posts should reflect this. Eventually you'll find your own voice and a style you're happy with, and if what you write is interesting and/or entertaining, then you'll find an audience organically. You won't have to try to impress.

Sunday, December 28, 2003

Is Paris Hilton Video a legitimate blog?

In choosing the sites for this week's Top Ten BlogSpot hosted sites, what should come up in the number 4 spot but a blog called Paris Hilton Video.

This site has come from nowhere. It wasn't even close to the running before this week, much less #4.

But it does demonstrate again how easy it is to manipulate Google. If you look at the site, the title to nearly every blog has Paris Hilton in it --even where it doesn't make sense to have her name in the title. Now, why would anyone want to use Blogger and BlogSpot to create a blog that has no Google PR and did not exist until December 5? Maybe it has something to do with the links to sites like "Paris Hilton Sex Tape." To create a porn site gateway, all you have to do is pick a heavily used search term and repeat the term in a blog over and over and over. Google eats it up and rates it the fourth highest BlogSpot site in the past seven days. This really calls Google's reliability into question yet again (remember Google bombing?)

We decided to disqualify Paris Hilton Video since it appears to us to be a doorway to porn sites, not a legitimate blog. What do you think? You can vote on whether you think the site should have been included in our weekly Top Ten by going HERE and then to the bottom of the page.

Saturday, December 27, 2003


Here's a new service for photoblogging. Buzznet allows you to upload digital photos to it's "photoblog community." The service is currently free.

What makes the site interesting is the ability to comment on the photos and to create galleries.

Posting can be done by email or from the Buzznet site. The free service limits you to 10 posts per day and 200 per month.

Wednesday, December 24, 2003

Lack of crackpot blogs

There are no end of crackpot sites on the Internet. If you don't think so, take a look at CrankDotNet for a good listing of the far-out (the biggest category is conspiracy). Once you have spent a few days looking at a sampling of crackpot sites, then you can take a look at some of the anti-crackpot sites. A good example is Operation Clambake which is an anti-Scientology site. You have to visit that site just to find out why Scientologists are so afraid of clams (click, click, click).

As John Dvorak points out, there don't seem to be that many crackpot blogs. I hasten to add: yet.

Dvorak notes: "The one odd thing I've noticed, though, is the relative lack of true crackpot blogs (and I don't mean Gnomegirl!). I know they are out there and the useful blogging software should invite true cranks and wackos like nothing before. Where is the abduction blog, for example? Or the time traveler blog?"

A possible exception is the blog-like Meta Tech which reports wacky news in a "for-real" setting --sort of like the National Equirer. If you want to find out if that tired feeling you've been experiencing lately is the result of reptiles mating with you while you sleep, take a quick look.

Speaking of really weird things, have you noticed that the Blogger spelling checker does not include blog, blogging or even blogger? Further, if you tell it to "learn" these words, it refuses? This is what (or reptiles mating with me) keeps me up at night.

Tuesday, December 23, 2003

Interesting blog

ihath is a touching blog that really gets to the fundamentals of things that are wrong with the world today. From someone who has lived in the places and experienced the conflicts caused by beliefs that one is not allowed to question, comes passages like this:

"I am not Muslim, not Christian, not Jewish", this I declare today, knowing full well what each word means. Not Sunni, not Shea'a or any other category. I believe that all religions should come with an expiration date. Valid for consumption until, beyond this date this religion will turn into poison if consumed. Since everybody is creating god in his on images anyway, I think that from now on I will create something that I like.

The style of this blog is to create long, comprehensive stories, rather than short journal-like blogs. The title of the blog that contains the quotation above is "How I lost my religion in the Holy Lands."

Not all blogs have literary merit and a true message. This one does. Highly recommended.

Blogs and political campaigns

Politics and the Internet used to be all about static Web Sites. These sites were pretty much nothing more than a political brochure. Then came the bulletin-board type political sites where people could post their opinions on political issues.

Blogs have changed all that. According to Common Dreams NewsCenter:

Every month, 250,000 people in hundreds of cities participate in meetups, local gatherings of political activists of every stripe who find each other online.

The result is a new form of intimacy between campaigns and their far-flung supporters, the creation of virtual political communities powered by people devoted to the candidates.

One of the most important aspects of the political blogs is the interaction between real people. Once this interaction takes place, there tends to be a sense of loyalty to the particular candidate. A real part of this has been meetups:

One of the most tangible results of the new wave of Internet organizing is the explosion of monthly meetups. Participants find each other through, an independent Web site originally designed to help connect the like-minded, whether they be Harry Potter fans or Chihuahua lovers.

The Dean campaign has taken things up a notch. Through "DeanSpace", local campaigns are given server space to create their own local blog pages. The main blog then features links to some of the best local blog postings. A fantastic idea that seems to be working extremely well.

Sunday, December 21, 2003

Top Site Awards

This week's Top Sites hosted on BlogSpot seems to be controlled by the Iraq bloggers. Forty percent of our winners on Blogger Forum are about Iraq.

One of the interesting Iraq sites (well, they're all interesting) is Beyond Northern Iraq. This blog is by Stuart Hughes who lost a leg to a landmine while covering Iraq for the BBC. One of his blog features is a Web camera. Stu's Webcam shows a small, brightly lit room with an unmade bed. Stu looks intense as he writes on his computer.

Of course, the bad thing about Webcams is they catch you doing whatever you are doing --even if it's wiping your nose with your shirt.

This just in: Stu responds and says: "I wasn't wiping my nose -- I was just scratching it!"

Friday, December 19, 2003

Call girl site gets best writing award

According to the UK edition of Internet Magazine, one of the winners of the British Blog Award by The Guardian is belle de jour, the diary of a London call girl. The site is hosted on BlogSpot and here's a sample of the award-winning writing:

As most transactions in my business are paid in cash I find myself at the bank rather often. I tend to use the same one at a similar time every day. Cashiers are naturally curious people who would have to be brain-dead not to wonder why I come in with rolls of bills several times a week and deposit into two accounts, one of which is not mine.

One day I presented the deposit details on the back of a slip the Boy had been sketching on. The cashier turned it over, looked at the drawing, and looked at me. "This is good. Did you do this?" she asked. "Yes, well, I'm a... cartoonist," I lied. Which is how the people at the bank came to believe that I draw for a living. Whether they took the next logical leap of questioning why any legitimate artist would demand payment in cash is unknown to me.

One advantage of this job is not being limited to the lunch hour for running errands. Therefore, I tend to go shopping in midafternoon. "Live close to here?" the grocer by the tube station asked one day, as I picked out apples and kiwifruit.

"Just around the corner," I said. "I work as a nanny." Which is blatantly unbelievable, as I never have children visibly in tow and, unless the Boy is staying over, am only buying for one. Still, he nodded, and now occasionally asks how the kids are doing.

Blogging in 2004, who's right?

Who ya gonna believe? Some of the pundits who like to predict trends and where the world is going in the coming year seem to have a few disagreements. On the downside:

Stuff to avoid: Blogging's wave has already crested now that millions of online diarists are realizing that not that many people actually read this stuff.

On the upside:

But 2003 offered up much more than just an unhealthy fascination with blogs. We also obsessed over the proliferation of people with camera phones breaking spot news stories; the rise of Google and Google News; the soap opera at (AOL) Time Warner; the continued inroads of paid content; RSS feeds; massive online coverage of the war in Iraq; viruses, worms and spam overwhelming newsrooms; the struggle for independent news in Zimbabwe, China, Iran and Iraq; and political rhetoric and election coverage.

If I were to play Swami again for 2004, I'd say we will see an acceleration of many of these trends as online publications start to gain more solid financial footing. The watchwords for the industry are "cautious optimism."

Thursday, December 18, 2003

RSS rename contest

Is RSS not receiving the popularity it should because it is just another geek acronym? Amy Gahran thinks so and is sponsoring a contest to find a new name. Amy makes a good case for her cause:

Think about it: Popular interest wasn't aroused by "HTML," but by "the World Wide Web." Similarly, no one gets excited about "SMTP" or "POP," but "e-mail" has become ubiquitous and indispensable.

Here are a few entries in the contest:

Reader Service Syndication Wow, isn't that catchy? And so different from the other RSS.
Infopush Mmm.... that has possibilities.
Info Nugget List Kidding, right?
putin Russian presidents need to stay out of this.
gates Ditto for billionaires.
Purfeed And ditto for cat lovers.
efeed Got my vote.

How important is blogging?

We used to spend time trying to convince the rest of the world as to the importance and legitimacy of blogging. There are times lately when we wonder if the pendulum might be swinging too far in the other direction. That is, in the direction of attaching too much importance to blogs. Take this, for example from World on the Web:

Determined bloggers who sit at their computers all day have time and room to get stories started in a way beyond the interest or capacity of cable news networks. Newspapers and broadcasters can then push the stories, as they did early this year in rolling down a steep hill Sen. Trent Lott (R-Miss.), the majority leader accused of carrying concealed racism without a permit. (Democratic senators such as Robert Byrd of Virginia get a break here. And Democratic politicians such as Howard Dean, who has pressed for the Southern "bubba" vote, has used his own blog to good political effect.)

Tuesday, December 16, 2003

See Jennicam while you can

One of the oldest blog-type sites on the Internet is JenniCam. After seven years of displaying her day-to-day life on the Internet through her Web-cam, Jennifer Ringley is calling it quits as of December 31.

JenniCam's byline is "...Life, online..." Blogs can be innovative and an argument could be made that JenniCam is at least partially responsible for the popularity of the survivor type shows on television.

The Sacramento Bee has a nice article about Jennifer and the demise of her site:

"The journey to this end has certainly been noteworthy. Founded in 1996 -- when Ringley set up a single Web camera inside her Harrisburg, Pa., dorm room as part of a class project -- the site, which caught every aspect of Ringley's life, from studying, eating and sleeping to walking around in the nude, was an immediate hit and quickly launched the economics student into the pop-culture stratosphere."

Blogging and Google Bombing in 2004 trend

Euro RSCG Worldwide is a marketing communications agency that spots, analyzes and predicts trends. They have an interesting press release (Year in Prospect: 2004) that takes a look at several areas they predict will be trends for 2004. It looks like a common theme to many of the trends is "me." For example, the drop in married-couple families from around 80% in the fifties to around 50% today and the trend to give gifts to oneself rather than others.

Blogging is one of the trends they expect to continue:

"Blogging: 2003 was the year in which weblogging -- a.k.a. blogging -- really took hold, with an estimated 3 million sites worldwide. In 2004, we'll see more buzz marketing via blogs, as marketers figure out ways to use this new medium for their own means."

They also see Google bombing as a trend:

"Google Bombing and Further Politicization of the Internet: In 2004, we'll see greater politicization of the Internet as more people take advantage of its ability to apply concentrated "people power," whether by organizing volunteers for a political candidate, raising funds, or starting a boycott. One thing we'll be keeping our eye on: Google bombing. Popular search engine Google works by picking up on associations between websites and particular words and phrases. Earlier this month, anyone who typed in the words "miserable failure" on Google was directed to the official White House biography of President George W. Bush. The prank was the brainchild of a computer programmer who e-mailed blogs with an anti-Bush stance and urged them to link the phrase to the biography site. We can expect plenty more of this tactic during the upcoming election year-including a likely counter-offense from pro-Bush bloggers."

Sunday, December 14, 2003

Blogger for Dummies

One of the thing sadly missing from the bookstores is a book about Blogger. Maybe we'll do one.

Anyway. A book that came out in September, Google for Dummies, does have a chapter on the Blogger side of Google. The chapter is short, and stuck in the back, but at least there's a little information. Some of the sections are: creating a blog on BlogSpot, creating a blog on your own FTP server, publishing a blog, formatting, and so on.

The whole thing is only twelve pages or so. Still, if you like playing with Google, it's a pretty good book to get into the basics of using the Google search engine.

Saturday, December 13, 2003

Every so often Google will do a little "re-think" of it's algorithms for deciding Web site rankings. They are sort of like earthquakes. After a period of quiet, all the Web community starts to get a little nervous about what might be afoot. They know that another earthquake is overdue. The SEO community tends to call these little changes hurricanes rather than earthquakes and even gives them names. Blog Business World has a pretty good explanation as to why some major Web sites went down a notch in Google rankings while blogs seemed to do quite well.

The recent Google update, referred to as "Florida" around search engine optimization (SEO) circles, had an adverse effect on many link trading websites.

Blogs trade links extremely frequently, often almost obsessively so. The blog link trades were not affected by the Florida Google update. If anything, blogs benefited tremendously. Bloggers are really generous linkers. They literally link to Everything. Because of their heavy outlinking practices, their often large lists of links are not seen by Google as a possible "link farm".

Epinions and Blogger

One of my favorite places to check out things before I make the purchase plunge is Epinions. This helpful site compiles opinions on consumer products and services from the users who have recently purchased the product or service. It's a great place to browse before you buy that riding lawnmower or cell phone (I used Epinions recently before purchasing both).

Blogger is critiqued by 41 users at Epinions. The average ranking is 5, which is as high as it goes. What troubles me, however, is that nobody seems to have bothered to post any reviews on Blogger this entire year. The last opinion on Blogger was posted in November of 2002. I wonder what the implication is here?

Incidentally, if you look further down on the Blogger review page at Epinions, you'll see Blogger Forum listed as a featured resource.

Friday, December 12, 2003

Blog survey results

Interesting results from last week's Blog Search Engine survey on blogging habits.

Some of the more interesting findings:

52.8% of all bloggers update their blogs at least daily
The majority of bloggers blog from both work and home
52.7% of all bloggers surveyed used Blogger as their blogging service platform
By far the majority of bloggers blog for "fun"

Thursday, December 11, 2003

Spammer arrested

It's about time. Jeremy Jaynes was arrested in North Carolina for sending illegal spam under a new (and until now untested) Virginia law. Virginia came into the picture because the computers used for the spamming were located in Virginia.

Virginia, incidentally, has about 50% of all of the world's Internet traffic passing through because it is the home of businesses like AOL.

The particular law Jaynes is charged with violating involve sending more than the maximum amount of email spam allowed and in falsifying routing information. He could get as much as twenty years if convicted.

Lose weight blog

How about a blog dedicated to weight loss by a blogger who lost 100 pounds in a year? The Skinny Daily Post is "short, daily essays on weight loss and fitness from a really average woman who lost 100 lbs. and works every day to keep it off."

Now here's a blog with real purpose. Weight loss advice and news from a person who's been there. "Forming new habits is the key, I realize to both taking the weight off and keeping it off. With just a few fewer calories each day, a bit more movement, I can do absolutely wondrous things for my health."

Losing weight and becoming more healthy, according to Julie Ridl, involves a pretty serious look at your lifestyle. Once you focus on what needs to changed, it is then a matter of convincing everyone in the family to make the necessary adjustments. "We have never once wondered if all these changes are 'worth' it. We look at one another's healthy, fit bodies, consider the far fewer times we've visited doctors or lost time to illness in the past year. We've noted that we haven't lost friends or bothered loved ones with our new habits. We've put food in its place, for the most part."

Tuesday, December 09, 2003

Reformed chicken murderer blogs

Depending on which side of the chicken your gravy sits, Virgil Butler is either a hero or a crackpot. Virgil's blog, the Cyberactivist, was created as an outlet for the guilt of years of slaughtering chickens for Tyson.

In the chilled dark of a Tyson processing plant, Butler killed 80,000 birds a shift. He snapped their legs into shackles so they hung upside down. He slit their throats. Every two seconds, another chicken came at him down the line, squawking and flapping. It was not possible, then, to think much. From Common Dreams News Center

Tyson claims Virgil's posts are outrageous lies from a disgruntled former worker and that they would sue Virgil to stop his blog, but "the exposure would just give him more publicity." PETA and other groups think Virgil (now a vegetarian) is a hero.

"The more I've done, the more right I feel about it," said Virgil about his blog. "I have found my niche."

Friday, December 05, 2003

Google bombing

Apparently there are a few people who have fun Google Bombing. If you don't know, Google bombing is manipulating Google to do what you want it to do, not what it should do. A good example of this is manipulating the search term "miserable failure" to point to the official President Bush bio on the White House Web page.

Now, the phrase "miserable failure" does not appear anywhere in the bio, but by putting the phrase on several sites and then linking to the bio, Google attributes the bio site to the phrase. Even though this story has been out for a bit, a search done right now on "miserable failure" still gets this #1 result on Google:

Biography of President George W. Bush
Home > President > Biography President George W. Bush En Espanol.
George W. Bush is the 43rd President of the United States. He ...
Description: Biography of the president from the official White House web site.
Category: Kids and Teens > School Time > ... > Bush, George Walker - 29k - Cached - Similar pages

Thursday, December 04, 2003

MS says "The Spoke" not competitor for Blogger

As a follow-up to our story on TheSpoke, Microsoft is still not saying much officially about the MS-owned blogging site. In an article in the Australian online edition of PCWorld, a MS spokesman did say a little about what TheSpoke was all about:

Microsoft's academic developer initiative is focused on building a community of students interested in software development, the Microsoft spokesman said. TheSpoke is in a test phase and more features will be added, he said, adding that the site is not intended to be competition for blogging services such as Google Inc.'s Blogger.

Nope, I'm sure it isn't intended to compete with Blogger, at least not at this stage. However, anyone familiar with the way Microsoft competes will recognize how it tests the waters when it decides to get into something potentially profitable. Just ask Netscape.

Wednesday, December 03, 2003

Look out Blogger, Bill Gates is coming

Microsoft is starting to try out its blogging muscle. Bill and Company have been pretty clear that blogging will be part of the next (after Windows 2003) version of Windows --currently codenamed "Longhorn."

Suddenly visible on the horizon is Microsoft's new blogging service aimed at younger bloggers (that would be most bloggers). The blogging service is called "the Spoke" and is now open for service (but not officially as far as we can tell). We had Blogfoot open a site to check out the look and feel of the Spoke. "Pretty cool" is the first report. For starters he just put up an initial blog, named his site Blogging Blog, and is still over there playing with the thing.

The service is free, so check it out at

Since the Spoke has not been officially announced by Microsoft, take care about taking the service too seriously at this point. You can play with it, but don't move your blog there since there are no guarantees where Microsoft is going with this.

Blogger take note. There are some things you can learn from the Spoke about the basics that should have been part of Blogger as of yesterday. Time is running out guys!

The Spoke is not ready for prime time, and it looks like there is no way at this point you can do much in the way of customizing your blog. However, it's fun to check out what direction Microsoft may be going with blogging.

Wil Wheaton does book deal

If you have been blogging for any length of time, you are probably familiar with Wil Wheaton's blog. Wil has been blogging since not long after he finished his run as Wesley Crusher on Star Trek.

Wil has self-published a book that will now be handled by O'Reilly & Associates. In the planning stage are two other books: one on being a geek and one on web-site design. The geek book will be titled Just a Geek which "continues the story of Wheaton's transformation from teen actor to grown-up writer, computer geek, actor, husband, and stepfather."

Tuesday, December 02, 2003

Saddam's uniform

I don't mean to seem like all we care about are blogs about Iraq, and I know that it is not really proper blog etiquette to just re-post an entire blog from someone else, but this is just too funny (from Healing Iraq):

On a lighter note. Fuad, an Iraqi citizen has been displaying Saddam Hussein's infamous military suit at Tahrir square in downtown Baghdad. He confessed to Azzaman that he got the suit from one of Saddam's presidential sites in Baghdad after the war. He has been offering it since for rental to interested customers to wear for souvenir pictures. His fees range from 500 Dinars (25 cents) wearing the suit to 1000 Dinars for a walk in it. An American officer offered Fuad 200 Dollars for the suit but he refused stating that he depended on it for his livelihood, he was making 15 thousand Dinars a day from renting the suit to Baghdadis. The funniest thing is that Fuad employed 2 of his relatives as bodyguards for fear on the suit from getting stolen. (From Azzaman)

Blogger co-founder voted "Hero of Freedom"

This is interesting. Evan Williams, a co-founder of Pyra Labs, was selected as one of the "35 Heroes of Freedom" by ReasonOnline. The award is to celebrate "the people who have made the world groovier and groovier since 1968."

"Evan Williams. With a little luck and a lot of technology, Williams did as much as anyone in history to provide the once-scarce freedom of the press to millions of individuals, through his co-founding of Pyra Labs, which introduced easy-to-use Blogger technology and free-as-air Blogspot hosting to the masses."

Blogs and the Iraq war debate

Many of the politics oriented blogs are split clearly along conservative-liberal lines. The "debate" is often shrill and even more often predictable. That is, predictable depending on the leanings of the particular blogger.

Here's an example of some clear-thinking blogging that discusses the issue of whether President Bush should attend funerals of soldiers killed in Iraq. Many of the liberal bloggers are claiming he should. On the other hand, Balloon Juice takes the issue in hand and discusses it fully and rationally. This is the way blogs should be.

The research clearly shows that no US president has ever done much in the way of attending military funerals.

"According to the Johnson Library, LBJ attended two funerals for soldiers who died during the Vietnam War. The first funeral was for Captain Albert Smith, son of White House correspondent Merriman Smith, which was held February 28, 1966. The second was for Major General Keith R. Ware, held September 17, 1968. LBJ had met Ware while visiting Vietnam."

Mmm.... two funerals out of some 50,000 deaths. Nixon never attended any funerals for those killed in Vietnam. Now, if President Bush (or any other president, for that matter) attended military funerals, he would immediately be criticized as a grand-standing, heartless politician trying to cash in on the publicity. You can't win.

Sunday, November 30, 2003

Blogging from Iraq, a US soldier

One of the great things about blogging is that you get to see things from different perspectives. If you rely solely on the media for your news, you're getting the usual bias. The blogs by Iraqis are interesting. Some usually make our Top Ten list each week. Here is an interesting blog by a U.S. serviceman in Iraq. Unfortunately, some of his most recent blogs have been from the hospital.

"One of the reasons that I continued writing in this journal for so long, was to let people know what it was really like for alot of the soldiers in Baghdad. I tried to give a perspective beyond what we hear about in the media. In these days where you can buy an ANARCHY T-shirt or a Che-Guevara watch at the mall, it's so easy to gt swept up in hte image of a government run by fat old men trying to line their coffers with gold, greasing their oil pumps with blood. It's easy to think that Iraq is just a piece of land that a Jingoistic Presidential Prince wants to hold onto regardless of the human costs.

I hated the way this war started. It took me along time to come to terms with my role as a soldier in Iraq, but with time, I came to realize that although the method was flawed, the result was freedom for the poeple of Iraq for the first time in 30 years. It's been slow going but we've made great strides in getting the country back on it's feet and no one can deny that the Iraqi people will be better off now than they were under Saddam."

Friday, November 28, 2003

Wisdom from a blog

Here's a nice bit of wisdom that is really appropriate for the Christmas season. It comes to us from the Islam 4 Real blog:

"Look to what you don't have and you'll never be happy, but look towards what could be taken away, and you'll be satisfied"

Library blogs

There are an amazing number of library blogs around the world. The fact that two library-related blogs are in our Top Ten list goes to show how active librarians are in the blogging world and how popular library blogs can be (they often have very high Google rankings).

If you're interested in library blogs, Library Weblogs is a listing of library blogs around the world with RSS feeds.

Wednesday, November 26, 2003

Put a song in your blog

Here's something fun. A site that takes your printed words and converts them to a song made up of "cuts" from famous singers for each word. You can then email the song or place it in a blog. Hard to explain, so try it yourself here.

Blogging defamation

On the downside of blogging, there is always the possibility of being sued. It is easy to tell a friend something like "I think Joe Smith has links to terrorist money laundering." Now, if you put that same thought in a blog and push the "Publish" button, you now have what is literally called in the legal world "publishing" which is a necessary element of defamation.

There is an interesting article in Tech Central Station about the subject of blogging and the potential for liability in the blogging world. In a further twist on the exposure bloggers may have for what they say, how about this: getting sued for what someone says on your blog in a comment? In other words, you didn't say anything at all, but are being sued regardless because of a comment posted by a third party on your blog. This is exactly what happened to Justene Adamec. She has been threatened with suit by the company Infotel based on comments made about the company by commenters on her blog.

Tuesday, November 25, 2003

A blog for Christmas?

This article in Slashdot about a Christmas gift for grandparents got me thinking. Someone was asking about how you might create a really simple Web site for grandparents where they could post family information and pictures and then make the site a Christmas present. Does it get any easier than Blogger?

Suppose you set up a blog with Blogger, install the perfect template, add several blogs and upload some family pictures. In other words, go ahead and do the small amount of work it takes to get things going. Maybe even put it on a good host or go ahead and pay for BlogSpot Plus (to take care of the picture uploads). Then, on Christmas, you show them the blog site, show them how to post, and then turn over the site password to them. A done deal and something that would probably tickle the heck out of Grandma and Grandpa.

Monday, November 24, 2003

Blogging and Muggles

So, what do the two words have in common? They were both added to the newest CD edition of the Oxford English Dictionary.

In case you didn't know, a Muggle is someone who has no magic powers (think "Harry Potter"). The other word you probably already know.

Will Google be the next company you love to hate?

There is an interesting article in the Boston Globe about how companies go from admired to hated at some point in the climb to success. With Google, it seems that perhaps the acquistion of Blogger may be the beginning of that point.

But as Google expands beyond mere search services, it sometimes alienates tech-smart users who were once devotees of the company. Consider Google's acquisition of Blogger, one of the companies that launched the personal weblog craze. It's got Dave Winer climbing the walls. Winer, a Berkman Fellow at the Harvard Law School, founded UserLand Software Inc., maker of the blogging program Radio Userland. Winer says that Google may crush rival blogging systems like Radio Userland.

Friday, November 21, 2003

News coming for Blogger users

There has been quite a bit of concern among Blogger users about the direction Google is taking Blogger. Since the buyout, there has pretty much been a total lack of communication from Blogger. Have you tried emailing Blogger with a question? Forget it. They don't respond.

Things may be changing for the better. Google hired Biz Stone a few weeks ago and apparently plans to set him loose to do what he does best within the Blogger division of Google. Biz was involved early on in the blogging community with Xanga and is the author of one of the only good books out there about blogging.

In response to our complaints about Blogger, Biz had this to say:

I am actually working with the Blogger team here at Google and I agree with you. Getting more information out to our users about what we're working on, how things are going here at Google, and that sort of thing is very important to me. I'm going to send out a Blogger Buzz newsletter with a bunch of info at the end of the month (you can sign up for that at and I'm looking to add more content to our site on a regular basis.

So, there you have it. A commitment to at least let us know what is going on in the Bloogle world by the end of this month. That means that Biz will have to take some time out from writing his new book on blogging to put together a newsletter for us. We'll be looking forward to it and will let you know what's up as soon as it comes out.

Wednesday, November 19, 2003

Earthlink to offer blogging

Earthlink has announced that it now will provide blogging as part of its ISP services:

"Additionally, the high-speed PSP features a link to EarthLink's new 'blogging' tool. Web logs (or 'blogs') are personal journals that users post online, covering a variety of topics. Along with 10MB of free Web space and access to Trellix, a free, easy-to-use Web page publishing tool, EarthLink subscribers can get tips on building, publishing and promoting their own blogs."

Blogger craze started with Google?

It's amazing how an article can be so wrong. The SMU Daily Campus seems to think that the blogging craze began with the purchase of Blogger by Google earlier this year:

Although blogging has occurred since the mid-'90s, the blogging craze did not begin until Google bought from PYRA labs in February of 2003. According to the Web site, Blogger started out as a small company developed in San Francisco by PYRA to develop web tools for the average person. After surviving the dot-com boom and bust, PYRA was acquired by Google. Google has now incorporated the software into its toolbar so that any user can click a button and set up a blog site. estimates that 1 million people are posting blogs, with the number growing daily.

Sorry folks, you don't know what you're talking about. Google owning Blogger has done nothing for the blogging craze. As far as I can tell, Google has set Blogger adrift with many of the serious Blogger users leaving in droves for serious blogging software. Secondly, the authors of the article seem to think that the Blogger button on the Google toolbar somehow creates a blog or somehow enables blogging. It doesn't. All it does is open a new blog post in Blogger with the site's URL so you can more easily link to the site from your blog. It really has no practical significance other than operating as an advertisement for Blogger sitting on the toolbar.

We've got quite a bit invested in the future of Blogger and hope they do well. However, all that has happened since the sale to Google in February is the dropping of Blogger Pro. And what has that accomplished? It has left some of the features of the former Pro available to the former Pro users, but not to the new users of Blogger. In essence, anyone who signs up for Blogger now is getting a crippled version. Blogger is cutting it's own throat with this bit of non-logic.

Tuesday, November 18, 2003

Are bloggers anti-social?

How introspective are bloggers? There is a view of blogging and bloggers that carries with it a sense of self-absorption tinged with anti-social behavior. Diane de la Paz has an article that looks at this issue in considerable depth. She carefully reads the blogs and then interviews the bloggers to get answers to the anti-social blogger question. From one interview:

Others imagine the blogger gazing alternately into his navel and at his keyboard, hour after hour, instead of going out to face actual people. The bloggers interviewed for this story, when asked about that image, make a pretty good case against it.

"Sure, we do spend a lot of time visiting each other (online) and updating our own sites," writes Dayment. "But it's certainly not a waste of time. I've met some truly awesome people via blogs, and I try to meet whoever I can in person. If I'm about to travel to a foreign city, I can find bloggers who can tell me where to go and what to see. If I'm having a computer problem at work, I have a large group of geeky friends online that can help me. We get a lot of support from each other. Bloggers are out there experiencing the world, only we get to share these experiences with everyone online as well."

Sunday, November 16, 2003

Bloggers in love with themselves

Jennifer Howard of the Washington Post has an interesting editorial on blogging:

A year ago, I barely knew what blogs were. Within a few months, they'd become a staple of my daily media diet. Now I can't live without them, but already I'm feeling betrayed -- and a little bored.

The more blogs you read and the more often you read them, the more obvious it is: They've fallen in love with themselves, each other and the beauty of what they're creating. The cult of media celebrity hasn't been broken by the Internet's democratic tendencies; it's just found new enabling technology.

New world of "I" politics

The Dean campaign is acknowledged to be the first political campaign that was truly launched from the Internet. That is, the Internet took a candidate who was a long-shot and re-made him into the Democrat front runner.

Few dispute that the Dean campaign's shrewd use of the Internet is one of the key factors that has rocketed the former Vermont governor from being a long shot candidate to the front-runner in the Democratic race. Many Internet scholars say that the way the campaign has made it possible for supporters to contribute online, connect with one another locally through "meet-ups" and a service called "Deanlink," while participating in the decision-making process -- such as the recent Internet vote on whether Dean should opt out of public financing -- has transformed political campaigns forever.

But the real power center of the Dean machine may be a crowded corner several steps from campaign manager Joe Trippi's office, where members of the 10-person Internet team stationed under a sign reading "Mission Control Dean" spout unintelligible chatter about "cookie problems," bandwidth and "simultaneous streams."

Any of that sound familiar? For Blogmasters (bloggers are, in essence, webmasters), the challenges of creating and maintaining a blog can be a daily affair.

Friday, November 14, 2003

Bloggers getting spammed

It's happening more and more frequently: blogs suffering from spam attacks. One popular method is to hit all the commenting services with spam that repeats on the blogs using the commenting service. A comment will appear to a blog that seems to be legitimate but somewhat puzzling because it isn't quite relevant to the blog topic. Or, the comment will simply be "Yes, I agree completely with that." The link back, however, will be to a porn site or gambling casino.

We had this happen to us at Blogger Blog yesterday with a half-dozen comments left that linked back to something called Norsk Porn. We had to go to the trouble of going to our control panel at the commenting service and delete the comments.

It seems more and more like a good part of the day is spent wading through and deleting spam from our various email boxes. Now we have to do the same with commenting. If ever a segment of our society needed to be taken out and lynched, it is the spammers. At this point it is estimated that over 50% of all email is spam. On my computer it is more like 90%. Think of the bandwidth wasted and the dollars this is costing. But wait. Spammers will think of ways to make life even more miserable for bloggers. Spamming your comments is just the beginning.

The Great Chinese Firewall

The government of China wants it two ways: they want the technological and commercial advantages of information access for their citizens, but they also want to decide what that information will be. As an example, CNN is totally blocked in China.

In our part of the world this does not make sense. Information is information and should be freely available. In China, the gateways into the country are limited and owned by the government. So, the whole system depends on information coming from the top down. Xiao Qiang, who now lives in the United States and has his own blog, sees a change coming:

However, what they cannot really completely control is when the Internet starts to spread through China, reaching the new middle class in urban populations, young professionals who are educated, it's started to have input from the bottom up.

In response, the government has started monitoring the exchange of information from the bottom:

There's Internet police divisions being built up in every province, in every city. Their job is to monitor online content. And they also use this highly sophisticated technology not only blocking the international Internet information but also monitoring the internal information flow. All these things are happening at the same time. They are constantly arresting people. Just last week, there were two major cases of Internet writers being arrested because they are publishing things that the Internet police think crossed the line. These things are happening all the time.

This is another example of the way we take basic freedoms for granted. When you're writing a blog you don't even think twice about what you want to say from the perspective of whether it will land you in jail or not. In China, the information coming from the top is controlled at the gateway while the information from the bottom is controlled by the "thought police."

Wednesday, November 12, 2003

CNN recommends Blogger Forum

Here's a welcome thing: CNN has an article I was going to mention since it has some good advice on getting into blogging from a business perspective. When I got into reading the article I found the most interesting part: they suggest Blogger Forum as a good resource.

Top Tips on Business Blogs

"• Check Web sites like,, or"


The idea of joint blogging in a niche topic area is not new. But consider this: sites that specialize in an area of interest and have several contributing bloggers who are experts in that area seem to be doing very well. Om Malik has come up with the name Micro-pubs for these types of blogs that are actually more like publications. Malik described a Micro-pub as "a combination of old fashioned newsletter, blog and a directory service, managed by one to 10 people."

JiWire, which is a guide to WiFi spots, was cited as an example of what Malik is talking about. Anyone seriously into blogging about some specialty should seriously consider morphing into a Micro-pub.

Tuesday, November 11, 2003

Fired blogger finds new job

You may recall the story of Michael Hanscom who was fired by Microsoft because of his blog, eclecticism. Well, not because of his blog specifically, but because he published a photo of Apple computers being delivered to Microsoft.

The reason for publishing the photo was fairly obvious: the irony of Microsoft using Apple computers and the Apple OS to do work at Microsoft.

Unfortunately for Michael, Microsoft had no sense of humor about employees blogging what Microsoft considered to be sensitive material. This raised quite a debate among bloggers about the ethics of blogging and whether free speech is infringed by the threat of employer retaliation for what is said in a private blog. Michael himself admits that the post wasn't a very good idea.

Michael Hanscom

Michael now has a new job at a print/copy store. "It's nothing overly glamorous -- no dream job, no mind-bogglingly cool opportunities were dropped into my lap during my week of notoriety -- but it's a good steady job, which I'm quite satisfied with."

Monday, November 10, 2003


Just when people were starting to catch on to the meaning of "Blog", we now have Moblogs. From the Star Tribune:

"Moblogging works like this: You're away from the computer, but you want to update your blog. So you whip out your celly, snap a picture, record some sound or message in some text. Push a button to connect to your blog server and voila! -- instant update."

Not all blogging platforms support moblogging --Blogger does. Kablog takes things a step further by providing support for devices that can handle the J2ME platform. For example:

-PalmOS devices running PalmOS v3.5 or higher with a network connection. For example, the Handspring Treo, Sony Clie, Palm Tungsten or Zire.
-Nokia 3650 (available from T-Mobile, Cingular, ATT, and others), Nokia n-gage, Sony-Ericsson P800, T610, and other Symbian OS devices
-Sprint PCS phones that can download J2ME MIDP games and other applications.
-NexTel Motorola iDen phones that can download J2ME MIDP games and applications.
-RIM Blackberry devices that can run J2ME MIDP applications.

Sunday, November 09, 2003

Not everyone is a fan of blogging. Take this, for example, from the Press Harold:

Blogs, another pretentious, made-up label for writing stuff on the Internet.

Short for Web logs, meaning, literally, stuff you write on the Internet. Fans of blogs say they are unfiltered, the thoughts of one person flowing right from the brain, through the fingers and out to the rest of the modem-connected universe.

The ultimate self-indulgence in our self-involved world.

Saturday, November 08, 2003

Understanding RSS

The Seattle Times has a very good article on RSS. The article goes from the very basic (what is RSS?) to suggestions on RSS aggregators with links. Check it out.

Friday, November 07, 2003

Flavors of blogs

The online edition of Courier & Press quotes a law student blogger who says that there are basically two types of blogs: blogs that comment on the current scene and blogs that are maintained as a personal journal. Although grossly simplistic, if you had to put blogs into two categories, I guess that might fit.

Personally, I think blogs could go into several important categories, one of which would be information rich blogs. That is, blogs that collect information in certain topic areas and then add comment. There are a large number of blawgs (law blogs) that would qualify in this area. Among the blawgs, many are specialized into legal areas, like copyright law and so on. Many others comment on general law topics.

So, to say there are journal blogs and comment blogs would be like saying there is vanilla ice cream and chocolate ice cream. Yes, that's true, but there are a lot more flavors if you look.

Wednesday, November 05, 2003

Will blogging replace Web consultants?

In a very interesting Yahoo Finance article, entitled "What your company's Web consultant doesn't want you to know" the option for business owners to update their Web site from their own desks is explored. The article discusses blogs, but quickly points out that it doesn't need to be called a "blog." All the owner needs to know is that Blogger provides a free service that allows him to update his Website from his desk, or by email, whenever and however he wants. He doesn't need a staff to re-publish to a Website.

"... a powerful, yet relatively misunderstood Web publishing tool is available that business owners can utilize to quickly update their sites without waiting for busy and expensive Web consultants to perform simple tasks like adding new pictures, changing text or adding a new email address. And the best news - it's free! Welcome to the world of 'blogging.' "

Interview with Google CEO about Blogger purchase

As all of us keep scratching our heads about the Google purchase of Pyra Labs (former owner of Blogger), a recent interview with Eric Schmidt, Google's CEO, was intended to perhaps shed some light on things.

When asked in the AlwaysOn interview about the prime reason for the purchase, the response was:

"What we really bought was a team. With these little companies, the asset that you get is the knowledge in the people's heads, and that's what we care about. They will be enormously creative in the next few years."

"The next step in general for information is the self-publishing part. If somebody takes the time to write something, having Google understand that is very important to that person. So if you view the world as one person at a time, getting that person, that author to understand that we value, we index, we search, and we care about their information is a very important part of our strategy."

So, Google seems to be saying they wanted Evan Williams and the other Blogger creators as part of the Google team, and they want to lend some sort of importance to what everyone has to say. I'm sorry, but I don't think I buy any of this. Does anyone really think that "I had a cheese sandwich for lunch" is important? We refer to blogs that go through the daily humdrum of someone's life --what they had for lunch, for example --as "cheese sandwich" blogs.

Search engine strategy isn't about making everyone out there feel good because whatever inane thing they say is picked up and indexed by Google. Why? Because the importance of a search engine is from the searchers viewpoint. A search engine is a tool, and a very important tool at that --perhaps the single most important tool anywhere on the Internet. If I do a search on "cheese" I want to know how cheese is made, or the history of cheese, or the relationship of cheese to Wisconsin. What I don't want to know about is the cheese sandwich someone had for lunch.

Tuesday, November 04, 2003

Birth of blogging?

No, blogging a birth. In what has to be a first, Mathhew Sturgis is using Wi-Fi and his blog to create a blog journal of the birth of his child.

"The day is finally here: in just a couple of hours, The Wife and I are leaving for the hospital to begin inducing the baby."

"The Labor and Delivery suite has wi-fi. How cool is that?"

$1,000 prize for best opinion blog

The Week magazine will be awarding an annual prize for opinon journalism works in four categories, one of which is blogging.

Here's the catch: the award will be made to the charity of the winner's choice. Oh well, I guess the prestige of the award is what really matters. "...columnists play an increasing role in framing and shaping the debates of our time. ... We wanted to recognize the people who do this type of thinking and analysis and argument."

Monday, November 03, 2003

Internet littered with dead blogs

Ajay Powell is cited as an example of the mass of dead and out-of-date blogs littering cyberspace. Ajay ran in the 2001 Honolulu marathon and created her site to track the progress of her training for the event. She updated the next year for her anticipated bike run from San Francisco to Los Angeles. Since then, her site has "remained frozen in time."

Like many others who enthusiastically start blogs, Powell lost interest. The novelty wore off.

Of course one of the major problems with dead sites is that the search engines still like them. For some reason, they end up with a life of their own --the undead, so to speak. The zombies of the Internet live on to clog our searches with outdated material. Ever go to what sounds like an interesting site only to find that it was last update two years ago?

By the way, I tracked down Ajay's blog for you. Notice that it is ranked 5 by Google. Doesn't it make you sick that you fight so hard for a good ranking while a zombie that has not been updated in two years does so well?

Big Blogger covers summit

What if instead of having a journalist send a news item to the editor which is then transformed into newsprint over a period of days, you had several journalists reporting live on an event? That is exactly how the first World Summit on the Information Society will be covered. You can catch it live and as it happens at DailySummit. According to the Media Guardian, you can keep up with an important event and a new way of reporting at the same time.

The journalists - most of them twentysomething and with no previous experience of web-logging - will be responsible for a single news site,, providing instant news and comment from the three-day event in Geneva in December. The summit, which will attempt to do for the global "digital divide" what last year's earth summit in Johannesburg sought for sustainable development, will reconvene for a second phase in Tunisia in 2005.

Sunday, November 02, 2003

Seinfeld blog

I knew it had to be out there somewhere. For you Seinfeld fanatics, check out the Seinfeld Blog.

Definition of blog

When asked by a reader to define what a blog is, Ed Kemmick of the Billings Gazette responded:

Have you seen "The Fellowship of the Ring," the first part of the "Lord of the Rings" trilogy? Do you remember when the good guys are passing through the dwarves' subterranean digs and that big green monster comes up out of nowhere and tries to kill everybody with a massive club? He is a blog. The name was borrowed to describe any Web site in which a grotesque, insensate creature wildly bludgeons everything in sight.

And if Microsoft takes over Google?

Microsoft and Google have been talking recently about a Microsoft takeover or even a merger between the two companies. Although the two companies have apparently put things on hold for the time being, especially with Google going forward with an IPO, it makes you wonder what a takeover would do to Blogger.

If the takeover of Blogger by Google seems to have made Blogger a bastard step-child of Google, would a takeover of Google by Microsoft make Blogger a bastard step-grandchild?

Thursday, October 30, 2003

Will subpoena to Blog*Spot reveal user?

There has been a long-running feud between two parties. Who they are and the nature of the feud are unimportant. You can read about it here if you want.

What is important to bloggers is the threat to reveal an anonymous blogger by trying to force Blogger's Blog*Spot site to fess up the real name and address of it's user. In an email threat, one side said: "Determining your identity for the purpose of making service of process can be easily accomplished through a subpoena to" Will Blog*Spot cave under the pressure? This will be something to watch as two parties that you ordinarily could not care less about force some real privacy issues on the blogging community.

Tuesday, October 28, 2003

I got mine. Did you get yours?

Those who paid for Blogger Pro were offered a Blogger sweat shirt in compensation for Blogger going to just one flavor of free blogging. If you subscribed to Blogger Pro and did not get an offer for the sweatshirt by email, contact Blogger to see if the offer is still good.

Monday, October 27, 2003

A blog with two million visitors?

How would you like to run a blog that has had two million visitors? Well, apparently it can be done. Randall Van der Woning claims that his blog has hit the 2 million mark. Of course, a big part of his success is that he has been blogging for five years.

Like we have told people who ask for tips at Blogger Forum about how to get popular: "Write, write and write." All the bells and whistles to make your blog fancy don't amount to a hill of beans if you don't have good, consistent content.

And if you get successful, maybe you to can get your blog featured in a CNN report the way Randall did.

Blogger Forum down

As of this morning, the Blogger Forum site is down because of a server problem. The problem seems to be a missing MySQL database which holds all of the Blogger Forum information.

If this is a server-related problem, it had better be worked out fast or we will need to find a more reliable server. If it a hacker problem, then our faith in the nature of human beings just went down another notch. We'll report back as soon as possible.

Friday, October 24, 2003

What would Google IPO do to Blogger?

There is plenty of talk around about Google going public sometime early next year. Google doesn't need money, according to Google owners. I guess they just want money.

So, once a company goes public and has shareholders, and once shareholders demand that a company be as profitable as possible, where does that leave Blogger? Blogger is definately not profitable to Google. I don't know what use Blogger is to Google other than the public statement about Blogger "fitting in" with Google's search strategies. I only know that Blogger is not going to ever be a profitable part of the Google company. That's fine if you are privately owned. I predict that if Google goes public, there will be immediate pressure to spin off Blogger.

Maybe bloggers in general should offer to buy Blogger from Google. There's a thought: Blogger owned by bloggers.

Spammers attack commenting system

Although Movable Type's commenting system is the main target, we are all coming into the sights. The fact is, it is extremely easy for spammers to invade any blog's commenting system and clog it with spam instead of legitimate comments. MT's commenting system does not require logging in to leave a comment. Although the blogmaster can ban IP addresses, this is easily avoided by the spammeisters. WiredNews has the full story.

Will blogs ever be profitable?

The guessing goes on about the Google purchase of Blogger. It is clear that current revenue from blogging is not a factor --the money just isn't there. The fact that one of Google's first moves was to drop pay per year Blogger Pro in favor of an across the board free Blogger shows that cash flow is not a consideration. The speculation goes on as to what will happen next. Take this, for example:

Still, privately held search engine bought blogging pioneer Pyra Labs in February of this year for an undisclosed sum, a move that prompted the mainstream media to look more closely at blogs. The business logic of the purchase is hard to see, but in a rare reversion to pre-dot-bomb business priorities, the company said that the acquisition was based on strategic rather than on revenue considerations. The fact that blogs are rich in content and links seems to fit well with Google's goal to find and organise the information on the Web.

Here's where I think the profitability problem is going to come in: bloggers are cheap. I'm sorry, but they are (I include myself). At this point in time we are all used to a free ride and any attempt to charge any significant fees would probably result in a mass exodus away from Blogger. "Moreover, although there are many blogs, few blogs are maintained to a point where bloggers would pay to keep them on-line. Of a total of 4.12 million blogs on eight blog services, more than two-thirds, or 2.72 million sites, have been either temporarily or permanently abandoned."

Thursday, October 23, 2003

Polling service for bloggers

Here's what could turn out to be one of the most interesting add-ons developed for bloggers this year. QuestionPro has announced Q-Blogger, a system to track blogger opinions and then host the results on the QuestionPro server. From their news release:

QuestionPro has recognized a growing need to publish surveys quickly and easily to a relevant audience of Internet users. The QuestionPro Q-Blogger will automatically publish a Blog entry to the user's Weblog containing a link to their electronic survey hosted by QuestionPro. QuestionPro's Q-Blogger effectively creates a real time mechanism for gathering opinions and feedback from Blog readers. Responses are automatically tabulated and available in real time at

Future of Blogger

There's an interesting interview with Evan Williams, founder of Blogger, at C/Net. We keep asking at Blogger Forum "where is Blogger going?" This might provide a little insight:

Q: What would be a sensible way to blend blogging in with the functions of a search engine?

A: We're not really focused on that. We're pretty heads-down in making Blogger a better publishing platform. Most things published through Web logs and Blogger get into Google; there's sort of a free integration there by virtue of Google's goal to search the whole Web.

Over the last four years, since we started Blogger, there's been a tremendous amount of development on the publishing side. There's not been as much progress on the reading and finding-stuff side. That's Google's forte. That's where we see we can add value to the Web log world--helping people find good stuff--hopefully with Google's technology.

Tuesday, October 21, 2003

Downside of blogging

"He's already lost a big chunk of his income and is under incredible fire, all because of three stupid sentences that demonstrate the dangers of blogging -- that is, posting your raw opinions online, almost immediately, without an editor."

This is a very good assessment of the Gregg Easterbrook situation. If you don't know, he is (was) an editor of the New Republic who lost his job over a statement he made in his own private blog. For the original article that lost him his job, go here. For his apology, go here.

Telling us what we already know

Mainline business publications are starting to get on the blogging bandwagon by acknowledging the importance of blogs. In a Michael Gartenberg interview, EContent made note that:

but Gartenberg believes it will take a move by the big three—AOL (word about the beta testing of a blogging tool leaked out at the beginning of July), Yahoo!, and Microsoft—before blogging enters business in a big way. He says, "The notion of using a weblog for enhanced communications is very, very appealing [to businesses]. It will be interesting to see as companies like AOL, Yahoo!, and Microsoft begin to start offering some of these tools and make those things available." He adds, "I think it's safe to say if there is a way to make money in this space, these folks are going to want to go after it."

Microsoft has already made it pretty clear that the next edition of Windows (Longhorn, not Windows 2003) will have a blogging component built in. It's interesting that many feel business does not jump into something until is supported by the mainstream. Meanwhile, others have been blogging as part of their businesses for years.

History of blogging

The Columbia Journalism Review has an interesting article on the history of Weblogs. "The growing power of Weblogs, or "blogs," has hardly gone unnoticed" is the starting sentence.

To show you how fast things have changed, the article points out that Pitas was the first blogging software which was developed by Andrew Smales and went online in 1999. The blogosphere has gone from dozens to millions in a very, very short time.

Friday, October 17, 2003

Blogger road kill

And check out this on-target article

"The 'blogosphere' is littered with blogging roadkill: blogs that were set up using the easy to use blogging software and then hastily abandoned as it became obvious A) no-one was reading them; B) they're a lot of work to maintain; and C) you very quickly run out of things to say about your cat or pot plant or conspiracy theory."

This is absolutely true. If you want to blog, don't bother unless you are willing to put some time into it. The lifespan of many blogs is one day.

"Freedom of Screech"

The Advertiser, which is an Australian journal, has referred to US bloggers as having "freedom of screech." Using the rants bloggers tend to sink to, especially over the California recall, the article went on to explain:

"Like the Sunday soapbox speakers at London's Hyde Park Corner, blogs are platforms for self-anointed pundits, providing online journals that can be updated throughout the day. Like most corners of the Internet, the quality of blogs varies tremendously from the terribly erudite to the barely literate."

It's a good article that concludes with this observation: "...the sheer volume of content online means you may have to hunt around to find something worthwhile."

Tuesday, October 14, 2003

Porn blogs?

Why not? Sex is everywhere on the Internet, isn't it inevitable that bloggers get into the porn scene?

Tech TV has an interesting article with the appropriate links.

Monday, October 13, 2003

The most influential blogs

Bloggers seem to spend most of their time discussion other blogs. It is therefore very interesting to see what "influential" bloggers think are "influential" blogs. The Online Journalism Review has an article on just this subject.

"This past year has seen the world of Weblogs, aka the blogosphere, grow in power and stature, if not to the general public, then to the other media. On Iraq. On Trent Lott. On The New York Times scandals. So we've created a graphical depiction of what I believe are the most influential blogs, pushing the direction of media coverage and perhaps even public policy. These blogs are either focused on the business of media, current events, politics or some combination of the three. They cover the media or have been covered by the media."

For a really good analysis of how blogs influence each other, be sure to check out the "mouth" charts at the bottom of the article. Each mouth takes you to a blog showing it's own influential mouths --can't explain it, you just have to go there and look.

Saturday, October 11, 2003

Japan Sucks blog

Well, we now know that Scotland has it's own blog. How about blogs that are against a country instead of about a country?

Take a look at Why Japan Sucks blog. To quote from the byline: "A blog about the never-ending frustrations of an American living in the nightmare known as modern Japan....the whole truth and nothing but the truth!"

Friday, October 10, 2003

When a country blogs

Scotland has its own blog. Check it out at ScotBlog.

From today's blog: A 12-year-old Scottish girl called Alicia Roland, has won a national competition to become the new voice of Britain's Speaking Clock telephone service. Apparently, in the 67 years since it began, the speaking clock has never featured a Scottish voice.

"You, too, can be a blogger" article at

A article on the basics of blogging is an interesting read --especially for someone brand new to blogging. The article suggests using Blogger to get started in the world of blogging. "If you're new to blogging, my advice is to sign up for a free blog just to test the waters. You can do that by visiting"

The article is somewhat misleading to new bloggers by saying that Blogger has extra services that are required for popular blogs that cost $50 per year. This leaves the impression that at some point you need to pay. I'm not sure if they are referring to the old Blogger Pro paid service that no longer requires payment or to the Blog*Spot Plus services. The article should have mentioned that you can also use Blogger on your own server or host.

It's understandable that everyone seems confused about what is offered and the cost. Blogger's own knowledgebase says: Can I order Blogger Pro or Blog*Spot Plus? We've stopped taking orders for these products as we are retooling our product offering. The features of these products are still completely supported and we are providing priority support to Pro and Plus users.

Thursday, October 09, 2003

Blogs respond to recall

The California Insider blog of reporter Daniel Weintraub has some interesting insight on the Arnold triumph in California. In an interview with Sheila Kuhl, a Democrat politico, Kuhl had this to say when asked what exactly the California Senate would need to save California from:

KUEHL: From ignorance. This guy has no idea how to run a state. One of two things will happen. He'll have his own ideas and no way to carry them out. I mean he has already proposed three things that the governor cannot do. He wants to roll back the car tax on his own by fiat, which he can't do. He wants to tax the Indians, which he can't do. He doesn't know anything about running the state. So either he will propose a lot of stuff he can't do and we'll have to govern, or he'll be pretty well manipulated by people who have an agenda, very much the way I think the president of the United States has been handled by people who are really telling him how to do these things.

Wednesday, October 08, 2003

New survey shows over 900,000 active blogs

The Perseus study of blogging may not be accurate, according to a new survey by NITLE (National Institute for Technology and Liberal Education).

The disparity between the Perseus research and NITLE's figures apparently lies in the type of blogs that were analyzed. The Perseus survey analyzed the estimated 4.12 million sites that have been created on blog-hosting services, such as Blog-City, BlogSpot, Diaryland, LiveJournal, Pitas, TypePad, Weblogger and Xanga, while the NITLE index includes standalone blogs as well as hosted.

It is interesting that NITLE chooses 8 weeks of inactivity as the benchmark to declare a blog inactive. I suppose if I had to pick a figure, I would choose about two months as well. The new survey also takes into account sites that are "test" sites.

Sunday, October 05, 2003

Will Microsoft integrate blogging into Windows?

Dan Gilmore had an interesting post in August about Microsoft's entry into the blogging world. That is, the expected official entry. Dan pointed out that Microsoft has started using blogging as an employment description in a few job offerings. For example, a new position for software development engineer contained this in the job description: "You will work with a team that will build services that power scenarios like personal and shared spaces, blogging and roaming storage. What you build will also make Longhorn come alive by enabling it to seamlessly sync and share their data. We are just starting to think about and design these services..."

Longhorn is the next windows generation expected in about 2005. It's interesting that Microsoft is interested in blogging as being a potential key part of the next Windows. Given the speed at which blogging has taken hold, it looks like the blogging world in 2005 may be somewhat different than we see today.

Saturday, October 04, 2003

Blogosphere to reach 10 million, but most will be dead

In what is touted as the first comprehensive study of blogging, Perseus has concluded that by 2004 there will be 10 million blogs, but that most will be dead.

Perseus is a research company that based its finding on a study of over 3,000 blogs. Perseus finds blogging is most popular with teenage girls. More than half of the weblogs surveyed are run by teenagers and 91.1 per cent are under 30. "Blogging is many things, yet the typical blog is written by a teenage girl who uses it twice a month to update her friends and classmates on happenings in her life," the report notes.

A large number of blogs are abandoned after a day. Most seem to be gone within a year. "Perseus' study doesn't see a 'community' as much as a graveyard. The average weblog is only updated once every fourteen days, and Perseus concludes that 'the majority of blogs started are dissolving into static, abandoned web pages.' Well, maybe people have simply got better things to do."

The survey found that most bloggers are: female, age 13-19, and that the growth rate in new blogs will drop from 606% in 2001 to 105% in 2004.

I guess Perseus is reporting something that all bloggers who stick with blogging already know: writing anything takes work. Who cares if millions of teenage girls get tired of blogging after one day? I think that whole segment of blogging can be ignored.

Thursday, October 02, 2003

Broadband cost going down

In the "good news for bloggers" category, the trend to lessen the cost of broadband is still going down. SBC has announced that the cost of DSL is now $26.95 and Comcast has also announced lower prices. Verizon had already announced a reduction to $29.95 per month.

With the prices coming down into the range of dial-up services like AOL, it's going to be real interesting to see where things end up over the coming year. Once you taste speed, you'll never go back.

Wednesday, October 01, 2003

British journalist takes blogging as assignment

"The technology editor's assignment seemed easy for a veteran tech hack like me: explore the much-hyped world of the weblog, set up my own blog and report back the findings. Seemed easy - but wasn't."

It's interesting to see how someone with computer experience, but completely new to the world of blogging, starts out deciding how to blog. Andy Goldberg first step was to see what blogging was about. Then, he had to take the plunge and create his own blog. "A quick Google search of the word 'blog' was all I needed to get started. I found dozens of browser-based programs that promised to get me posting my pithy commentaries within a couple of minutes." Andy chose Blogger and hosted his new blog on Blog*Spot.

"But I soon discovered that such an undertaking takes a lot of work to do properly - and I already had a job. There certainly was no way I could realistically envisage my blog becoming a money-making concern."

Reality step #1 had set in. To find out more about Andy's experiences, visit the independent. To visit what remains of Andy's weblog, go here.

Monday, September 29, 2003

Microsoft employees who blog

If you want to keep up with what is going on in an industry, what better way then to read the blogs of those employed by the industry? Take, for example, Flashgoirl (no, I didn't misspell it). This is an interesting Blogger blog that links to other Microsoft employees.

If you want something really interesting, take a look at her webcam page which usually shows an empty chair complete with sleeping cat. Sometimes the cat is there, sometimes it isn't. That's what makes it interesting.

Saturday, September 27, 2003

Blogging under a totalitarian regime

In the United States and in most of the world, the "right to blog" is pretty much taken for granted. You can say what you want whenever you want --no matter how outrageous. We blog for fun. In some places blogging can be a way to express dissent, even at great personal risk.

Try going to the site of Iranian blogger Sina Motallebi. What do you see there? As part of a crackdown on dissent in any form, Motallebi became the first blogger to be put in prison. Freed after three weeks, it seems the message is clear: criticism of the Iranian government or the clerics who run it in any form can mean prison.

The biggest fear of totalitarian governments is the free exchange of information. Iran was fairly successful in eliminating satellite television since the dishes are obvious. But communication via the Internet is harder to control. For an interesting article, take the time to read Cyberdissent: The Internet in Revolutionary Iran found here.

Thursday, September 25, 2003

Your blog and the First Amendment

Bloggers are pretty much free to say whatever they want to say (with a few exceptions). However, the issue gets murky when the blogger is an employee of an institution and the blog is carried on the institution's server. Take Eric Rasmusen's blog, for example. He is a professor who does not believe that it's a good idea to hire homosexual teachers. Once his statements on the subject came to the attention of the University who employs Professor Rasmusen because of mention in another popular blog, the Volokh Conspiracy, things started to get hot.

The university had to decide what to do in light of all the publicity and controversy. Do they make him take down his blog? Do they make him move his blog to a different server where there is no connection to the university? The line that caused the most problem was Rasmusen's observation that hiring gay teachers "puts the fox into the chickencoop." However you happen to feel about the comment, certain groups immediately responded that the comment was "hurtful." If you don't know what that buzzword has come to mean in today's thinkspeak society, it means that you have treaded in an area that is verboten and you must now prepare for the consequences of speaking your mind. The controversy continues.

Wednesday, September 24, 2003

Startup to offer business to business blogging

The concept of Business to Business (B2B) marketing has been a darling of the Internet for the last several years. So far, the world of blogging has not tapped into the concept (with a few exceptions) although it has to come. Enter Weblogs, Inc. which relies on "creating niche Weblogs across niche industries" to tap into the business end of blogging.

With a "talent wants to be free" attitude, Weblogs, Inc. plans to partner with bloggers who have important things to share about niche industries. Obviously, they are not talking about the "I had a cheese sandwich for lunch today" type of blog. They are talking about the type of blogs that people might actually be willing to pay for. Again, niche is the key. I would assume that in the field of IT management, for example, managers would be happy to pay for content on the IT subject contributed by experts in the field. For example, content provided by a few authors of textbooks and/or other managers who have a reputation for leading-edge thinking.

When you look at what it takes to publish a book on a given subject, it is an expensive and time-consuming process. In some fields, whatever you have to say can be obsolete long before you hit the bookshelves. On the other hand, with blogging you can update thinking in moments. How valuable might it be for a business to have experts "on call" giving advice. Isn't that what businesses pay consultants for? Don't consultants keep up with the latest trends in an industry and advise their clients on how to react? Think how valuable a service this could be. Think of the potential. This is a concept that is at the ground level and has to be ready to take off.

Tuesday, September 23, 2003

Captain Kirk blogs

Star Trek geeks can get into arguments about whether Captain Kirk or Captain Picard were better at running the Enterprise. Wil Wheaton ("Wesley" on the first Picard version of Star Trek) has a well-known blog that most people in the blogging community know about. But did you know that William Shatner has a blog as well?

Where Wil's blog (tagline: "50,000 monkeys at 50,000 typewriters can't be wrong") discusses just about everything under the sun, Bill's blog is centered more on what he's doing:

"I was in Toronto recently, doing a series of commercials for Kelloggs, which is a lot of fun and looks like will result in some fairly amusing spots. While I was there I put together a syndicated radio show and tried to get together another show for divers that hunt for sunken treasure. There are other projects in the works, too --including one at Sci Fi channel, tentatively titled "Inferno of Hate." At some point this month, I plan to take a breather, take a swim, barbeque, have a cool lemonade or two. I just can't figure out exactly when!"

Monday, September 22, 2003

Blogging taken to new lengths

Most blogs are general in nature. Some blogs are very specific. In the realm of the extremely specific is this blog which is either a total spam attempt by the same folks who like to flood your email, or it is a legitimate blog site. You decide. We have to blame Ernie the Attorney for bringing it up.

With our creation of the Bloscars (more on this later), perhaps we should consider a separate award category. Most specific? Most obviously spam? Perhaps a new Internet word needs to be coined. Blam? Another: those who create a blog solely to push a product: Blammers.

Sunday, September 21, 2003

Blogs, copyright and Hitler

Simon Waldman has a quiet little British blog he calls Words of Waldman. Recently, as he was going through some old magazines from the 1930's, he ran across an article in Homes and Gardens about Hitler and what a nice chap he was. It occurred to Simon that this would be a good blog subject. That is, how public perceptions are created by media perceptions. So, he scanned the article and made it part of his post.

In response, Homes and Gardens demanded that he take the post down. "This piece, text and photographs is still in copyright and any unauthorized reproduction is an infringement of copyright. In the circumstances I must request you to remove this article from your website. Sorry that I had to take this stance, but am sure you will appreciate the legal situation."

Simon did take it down, but sent Homes and Gardens an email: "These are interesting and important historical documents. As you are clearly aware. They should be widely available for as many people as possible to learn from them. That they can be, instantly, is one of the great beauties of the internet. I'm afraid as well, that simply getting them taken off my site is unlikely to be the end of it. These are digital files. They have been seen by thousands of people. It is incredibly easy for people to copy them and put them up on their site anywhere in the world. As of now, I have no idea how many versions there might be on the web."

Well, Simon knew how the Internet works. The corporate world apparently does not. In trying to apply a very weak and nonsensical copyright claim, Homes and Gardens insured that their embarrassing article would be seen a thousand-fold more times than if they had kept quiet. Mmmm..... let me pick just one of the many places you can see the article. Ok, how about here?

As for Simon, he is a bit bewildered by all the attention this has brought his blog. "I don't know...for a couple of years I blog away in a quiet little backwater of the blogsphere, barely registering among the Technorati, writing my all matter of things to a daily audience barely big enough to fill a minibus. Then all I do is scan in a few old magazine pages and put them up...and before you know media exposure."

You gotta love blogging. It can turn any of us into a journalist with something important to say. By the way, here is one of Home and Gardens "copyrighted" photos from the article. Notice how enforcing their copyright magically made everything disappear?

Making your own RSS feeds

Since Blogger Pro no longer exists, and since standard Blogger does not include RSS feed creation (yet, but it's coming), and since anyone signing up for a new account with Blogger gets an "in-between" version somewhere between Pro and regular Blogger, let's look at RSS feeds and how to create them for any blog.

There are plenty of technical papers out there on RSS creation, but precious little information in the "RSS for Dummies" vein. Enter the Blog Bloke who put together his own RSS feed and shares the simple approach on how he managed to do it.

Saturday, September 20, 2003

Live blogging, a promising trend?

Here is an interesting idea. Not a new idea, but newly interesting because of the subject of the blog: John Cleese (Monty Python, Fawlty Towers, etc.).

Cleese was the keynote speaker at SunNetworks and Mark Jones was there blogging live and in full color for InfoWorld's TechWatch (but misspelling Fawlty Towers). Cleese's subject was about mistakes and how they are a part of life and need to be acknowledged. Here is what I consider the fascinating part of live blogging: capturing ideas as they happen and distributing the ideas planet-wide. Here are a few Cleeseisms that might have been lost without blogging technology:

"Remember this: It's practically impossible after a really good idea emerges to recall exactly what the process was that gave birth to it."

"A man who is afraid to make mistakes is unlikely to make anything."

"Today's protected system is tomorrow's unprotected system. So does that make today's system a mistake? Well, yes, if it's a Windows System. "

TV station invites live reports from bloggers

"Send us your live reports from the scene! is compiling a "blog" (Web log) of public comments on Hurricane Isabel."

Taking advantage of the blogger's tendency to want be in the middle of things, WVEC had a very large response to their call for blog reporting on Hurricane Isabel. From damage descriptions like "We have a 10 foot by 20 foot hole in our yard where our sea wall breached and sucked out the ground" to minutes old digital photos, the blogging community kept everyone up to date on the hurricane.

Friday, September 19, 2003

So, what features of former Pro are lacking in regular Blogger?

Since we had the issue come up in the Blogger Forum about why RSS is not available, I thought we might look into this a little. The best way to get information is from fellow bloggers. Radio Free Blogistan (a former Blogger blog, if I remember correctly), asked the same question. If you follow the links there to Steve Jensen (Blogger/Google guru/inventor) and Jason Shellen (ditto) you get as close to the source as you will find.

The upshot? RSS is coming to all Blogger users "relatively soon." Meanwhile, if you weren't aware, regular Blogger users can now have headlines. Go to your settings page and turn them on. A blog is not a blog without a headline.

BTW: one of the comments to Xian's post was "Now if they could only add some commenting as well." Amen.

Finding out who's linking to you

One of the most interesting things about blogging is finding out whether other bloggers think you're interesting. After all, blogging is like any other type of writing, you want an audience. The bigger your audience, the more (apparently) interesting you are. And how do you measure the degree of interest? --By the number of people who either link to you or mention you in a blog.

There are several ways to keep track of who is talking about your blog. Today, we'll look at Technorati which is a service that tracks blog links. If you enter your blog's URL, it will search for links and for blogs that mention your blog site. This can serve two purposes for you: it can enable you to jump to the blog that mentions you to see what they had to say, and it can give you an instant picture of how "important" your blog is. This importance factor is the same measure Google uses to rank your site. If you look at, for example, through Technorati's eyes, this is what you get:

The return show there are 50 "inbound links" and 32 "inbound blogs" to the site. Technorati then displays a summary of who posted and the context which you can order by freshness or by "blog authority." Blog authority is the ranking the blog that mentions you or links to you has.

The Technorati basic service is free. Technorati has more advanced features for a nominal price of $5-$10 per year. These services include watch lists and comparisons of competing sites along with objective measurements of your site's performance.

Technorati is not the only source for this type of information. We plan an article for the near future that compares and reviews link reporting services.

Thursday, September 18, 2003

Adobe Reader 6 has annoying ads

Another upgrade, another problem. The newest upgrade to Adobe's free reader, now called Adobe Reader instead of Adobe Acrobat Reader (good move) has an unfortunate "feature" --it has a colored box on its toolbar that cycles ads for Adobe products. Fuzzblog, an interesting tech-oriented Blogger powered blog seemed especially upset by the self-contained spam.

Fortunately, Planet PDF explains an easy fix to turn this annoying feature off. Under "Preferences" and then "Startup" there is a check box labeled "Show messages and automatically update." Sounds like that should be a good thing, right? Unclick this and the ads are gone for good.

Newspapers getting into RSS feeds

Some of the major newspapers are discovering that creating RSS feeds for their publications leads to an easy way to distribute news. "RSS is getting a boost from the popularity -- even on newspaper sites -- of blogging, or Web logging. Many bloggers, who write online journals that typically link to other Web sites, use RSS because it's an easy way to aggregate headlines from a large number of sources."

Tuesday, September 16, 2003

Free toolbars: the Good, the Bad, and the Ugly

Are the free toolbars available from several sources handy utilities or a backend pipeline into your computer and your privacy? As they say, it depends on how you look at it.

The Good. I use the Google toolbar. It has several good features that enhance searching and it has the ability to display a page's page rank based on Google's assessment of the site's importance. For bloggers, this is a handy way to keep up with rankings. The Google toolbar also includes a pop-up stopper that works well and can be selectively set to allow popups for sites you choose.

The Ugly. I have to say the Yahoo! Companion qualifies for the Ugly category not because of its looks, which are marginally OK, or even its name, (companion?), but because its search is limited solely to Yahoo! listed sites.

The AltaVista toolbar also qualifies as Ugly at this time, although it is very close to being good. It has all the necessary features, including a pop-up stopper and the ability to translate a site into any of ten languages. However, its only shortcoming at this point is that it lacks a certain amount of accuracy in its info button which is supposed to take you to weather forecasts and so on. Also, its method for ranking sites seems to provide only outdated information. I do have to say that the AltaVista toolbar is worth looking at and may rank as Good for many people.

The Bad. There are several toolbars and utilities that are nothing but spyware that are designed to track your habits and clutter your computer with ads. One of the worst offenders is Xupiter. I won't even post a link to them, but I will post a link to a site that explains how to get rid of Xupiter if you are unfortunate enough to be infected with this parasite. There are many more that are similar, so beware.